Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell smashed a spectacular 96 to not out lead the Baggy Greens to a three-wicket win over India, but also hand his side an unassailable 3-0 series lead.
Maxwell was well supported by opening batsman Shaun Marsh, who struck a quickfire 62.
However, India batsman Virat Kohli deserves a lot of credit for his sparkling knock of 117.
Australia captain Steven Smith would have been pleased with his decision to bowl first early on as India opener Rohit Sharma, who had made two consecutive centuries prior to the game, was dismissed early on.
However, despite the early exit of Sharma, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan took the attack to the Australian bowlers before Dhawan was clean bowled by John Hastings for 68 off 91 balls, which included nine boundaries.
Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane continued to keep the runs flowing and Rahane brought up yet another half-century before he was dismissed for 50 off 55 balls, which included four boundaries and a six.
Kohli ended up making 117 off 117 deliveries, which included seven boundaries and two sixes, as India finished on 295/6 off their 50 overs.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Hastings was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Kane Richardson and James Faulkner chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 296 to win, Australia got off to a solid start before Aaron Finch was caught behind off the bowling of Umesh Yadav for 21.
Marsh and Smith kept Australia on the right track before Smith and George Bailey fell in quick succession for 41 and 23 respectively.
Marsh went on to score 62 off 73 balls, which included six boundaries, before Maxwell took over. Despite losing Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade along the way, Maxwell continued to power Australia towards their target.
With Australia within touching distance of their target and Maxwell just four runs away from his second ODI hundred, he tried to end the game in style, but he paid the price for doing so and was on his way back to the pavilion after having scored 96 off 83 deliveries, which included eight boundaries and three sixes.
Despite Maxwell’s dismissal, Australia went on to win the match by three wickets with seven balls to spare.
Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja claimed two wickets each.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was gutted to have come up short again, and said: “It’s tough to take. We didn’t field well tonight. There were at least three boundaries we should have easily stopped. The batsmen are working hard, but we’re always talking about 10-15 extra runs. This was a slightly different wicket, but there was not much the batsmen could have done. 295 was a good total. Sran didn’t have a good day, so it became difficult for himself, and I couldn’t rotate the bowlers. Rishi and Gurkeerat bowled well, so we somewhat covered up for Ashwin’s absence. There is some encouragement, it is tough when you lose games but you have to realise the bowling attack is largely inexperienced. It’s good to see Ishant bowl well in the middle, but when there’s a bit of pressure, the fast bowlers leak runs.”
Smith was thrilled to have clinched the series, and said: “We did well to keep them down to 295. They bowled well in the middle, lost a few wickets in clumps before the Maxwell show. It was great to see him bat the way he did today. He scores so fast playing normal cricket shots, he’s got all the shots. He plays so beautifully when he hits the ball in the right areas. Hopefully, he’ll keep doing that. If I have my time over again, I may have batted first today. I didn’t anticipate it to get so dry in the end. There’s still room for improvement though.”
Maxwell was named Man of the Match, and said: “I wanted to shake off the tag of being called ‘The Big Show’. So yes, this is special. They got a good score, to chase that down with James Faulkner in the end is unbelievable. I feel like I’ve been making big strides over the last few months. The way I’m hitting the ball and approaching the game is different to what I’ve been doing over the last few years. It’s unfortunately not much of a break until Canberra, so maybe we’ll have a small celebration tonight.”